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Lebanon Theaters Get OK

Board Approves Expansion Plan

Lebanon — The Planning Board has given a green light to Entertainment Cinemas to modernize its theaters on Miracle Mile, approving a plan that would add two silver screens for moviegoers in the Upper Valley.

The board last night unanimously approved a site plan amendment that will allow for the construction of a 1,305-square-foot addition, as well as a redesign of the theater’s interior and the parking lot. Several Planning Board members expressed excitement that Lebanon’s movie hub would be getting a touch-up.

The majority of discussion last night, however, was devoted to Iron Horse Park, a proposed 92-acre multi-use development that would be located between Route 4 and Route 12A at an old quarry site. Board members spent two hours weighing the project, often alluding to the complexities of approving a “planned industrial unit,” which in this case would encompass 10 lots.

In the city’s planning process for so-called industrial units, building specifications and landscaping details are considered with the understanding that any changes in the site plans would prompt the applicant to come back before the board. But the Planning Board is still charged with making sure the overall development would be functional as approved, which led board members to complain — as they have in the past — about the plan lacking certain details, such as building elevations.

Board members also wondered how much traffic would be generated by potential additions to the development, such as a fast food restaurant, of which Lebanon already has several.

Lebanon Senior Planner David Brooks explained to the board that one of the lots in the development proposal, which is designated as a restaurant, could end up being a McDonald’s, even though the plan shows no layout for a drive-thru.

“If McDonald’s wanted to come in and be in the restaurant you’re approving, without a drive-thru, then I think you’re approving it,” he said.

Planning Board Member Nicole Cormen said that although the restaurant is being presented as one that would primarily serve those in the development, there is no restriction on who could eat there.

She pointed out that she shops at the Lebanon Co-op food store without having any other shopping to do in Centerra park.

The board has discussed the project several times in the past few months, and will do so again on April 22.

Ben Conarck can be reached at bconarck@vnews.com or 603-727-3213